TAoN No. 46: Objects of Home, Now
PLUS: "Things my family actually eats," and a new icebreaker
|Rob Walker||Jun 16|| 3|
The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy In the Everyday offers exercises, prompts, provocations, games and things you can actually do to build attention muscles, stave off distraction, pick up on what everybody else overlooked, and experience the joy of noticing. Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Knopf. This newsletter offers related news and ideas and noteworthy projects that have come along since I finished the book. ****Subscribe or unsubscribe at: robwalker.substack.com.****
Objects of Home … Now
#shelf__life works by Laurene Leon Boym; explained below.
For six or seven years now, I’ve participated in the School of Visual Arts’ Design Writing and Research Summer Intensive. My part is a workshop on writing about objects.
Usually this means I go to New York for a couple of days, and meet an amazing group of 15 to 20 participants from all over the world. And usually, the main assignment involves identifying and writing about some overlooked or underrated object that, to the participant, resonates with their experience of New York City (whether they are a local or visiting for the first time).
This year, of course, everything happened on Zoom. I still got to meet 16 amazing participants from all over the world — but I had to adjust the assignment:
I still wanted everyone to pick something overlooked, something others might not notice or pay attention to. (That’s my eternal theme.) But this time I changed the other parameter, and asked for an object that resonated with home.
More specifically, we talked about how home, as an idea, might have shifted during the pandemic. I didn’t necessarily want them to focus on “coranavirus objects” or “quarantine objects,” per se. But I wanted them to think of everyday objects they had come to view differently as a result of the lockdown months.
The results were so great. Everything from commodity objects like the bobby pin, the can opener, and painter’s tape, to highly specific objects like a particular door knob, a Bento box, a bògòlanfini, to in-between ideas like a front stoop, a set of binoculars, a mailbox. Each unlocked original observations, deeply personal stories, new ways of perceiving the seemingly ordinary.
I invite you to try this exercise yourself: Identify some thing in your home (define home as you wish) that you attend to or notice or think about in a new way, because of this pandemic time we’ve been living through. You might choose to write about it, as we did in the workshop. Or maybe you’d rather draw it, or photograph it. Or maybe you just want to think about it — or make everybody in your family choose something and talk about it. Feel free to share what you come up with (email@example.com) but as always, what really matters is the process: Even trying to choose an object (I have found) is a great exercise in thoughtful perception of the everyday.
Thanks as always to the SVA Intensive crew, who I love, and to this year’s participants (let’s meet IRL some day!), for helping me see the world a little differently.
Speaking of objects of home, now: Friend of TAoN Laurene Leon Boym sent out a note the other day spreading the word about her series of “daily drawings that are meditations on real objects with strange packaging I have in my pantry during this time of turmoil. Things my family actually eats.”
The project is called #shelf__life, and the best way to check it out is through Laurene’s Instagram, @teen_gymnast_who_smokes. She’s apparently selling some pieces and “accepting commissions, collaborations and exhibitions.”
It’s very fun, unique, inspiring work. And I am quite taken with this quick video.
Icebreaker Of The Week
There’s now a central collection spot for all the icebreakers to date, here.
This week’s icebreaker comes from Tony Brent. It requires no particular preamble:
If you could sing like any famous singer in the world (living or dead), who would it be?
I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to choose. I’m not even sure which Beatle I would choose. Maybe that’s just me. Anyway: Thanks, Tony!
I’m still working through the icebreaker backlog, but I’m happy to hear more new ideas! So as always:
Send your favorite icebreaker (whether you made it up or got it elsewhere) to firstname.lastname@example.org
In Other News
Speaking of writing about objects, the Project:Object series organized by my longtime favorite collaborator Joshua Glenn and me has wrapped its latest edition: MOVIE OBJECTS: Carlo Rotella on POWDERING CONE (REIGN OF TERROR) | Laura Miller on SEVERED EAR (BLUE VELVET) | Jeff Malmberg on SPAGHETTI SAUCE (THE GODFATHER). And more.
I’m still taking sound shots. Here’s one from this weekend’s bike ride to the French Quarter, which is slowly showing signs of life. (If you take a sound shot, please share it with me!)
Okay, that’s it! Next issue in two weeks.
As always, I value your feedback (suggestions, critiques, positive reinforcement, constructive insults, etc.), as well as your tips or stories or personal noticing rituals, and your icebreakers: email@example.com.
Thanks for reading!
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All this by Rob Walker PO Box 171, 748 Mehle St., Arabi LA 70032
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